Following my previous post, I thought it would be useful to clarify what I intend to do for the 'regeneration' component of my planned training week, partly because it is an important part of a complete training programme and partly because it is an area of training that seems to be ignored by a number of BJJ fighters. By the term 'regeneration' I am referring to activities that improve the body's recovery from the rigours of exercise, assisting to restore the body to its pre-exercise state and improve soft tissue (particularly muscles, tendon and fascia) quality. In spending time on improving my body's ability to recover I can train harder, with greater frequency and a reduced risk of injury.
It's important for me to schedule regeneration into my weekly plan otherwise it's just so easy to overlook it: In dedicating a time slot for it, I make it an integral part of my training program. I tend to plan this area of my training somewhat instinctively, varying the type, frequency and quantity of work depending on how I feel. Below are some of the modalities I have found useful; it is by no means an exhaustive list and I am certainly not using all of these methods all the time.
- Ice – Reduces inflammation and swelling of muscles and connective tissue; it has an analgesic (pain-killing) effect.
- Heat – Relaxes muscles and is therefore useful if something feels tight or spasmed. Heat treatment should not to be used during the acute (early stages) of an injury as this may exacerbate the injury and prolong the recovery period.
- Contrast – Can improve circulation to the muscles by pumping blood in and out of the muscle. If I want a full-body effect I will either use a contrast shower (alternating hot and cold water in the shower, always finishing with cold) or alternate use of a sauna with a cold shower. When I'm using it locally, I alternate heat and ice packs. As per heat treatment, should not be used locally on an injury in its acute stage.
- Sauna/Steam Room – Relaxes muscles in a similar way to heat treatment. Can't say I use it too frequently as I tend not to like the experience much and I can't sit still in the heat for more than a few minutes.
- Epsom Salt Bath – About 300g dissolved in a bath can help to relax muscles and reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.
- Static Stretching – Restores length to tightened muscles and realigns it's fibres, improving flexibility and tissue quality.
- Dynamic Stretching – Improves the active range of movement around a joint, improving mobility and joint function.
- Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling and similar) – SMR reduces tension in hypertonic muscles, increases the pliability of muscle and fascia, breaks down scar tissue and fibrotic tissue in the muscle and deactivates active trigger points, resulting in improved mobility, tissue quality and muscle function.
- Sport and Remedial Massage – As this is what I do for a living, I am very keen on implementing it into my training programme. I usually have 1-3 treatments a month, depending on how I'm feeling. I will write a seperate post about this at a later date.